General Blog

General Blog

October 3, 2013

Rhine – Day Eight – How big is your bomb hole?

Started the day docked at Cologne. Interesting place – I’m actually sitting on the upper deck of the ship, writing this while looking over the riverfront. Anyway, we only had a half day here, so we got the usual walk through tour. The funny thing I’m noticing is that each of the guides tell us how pulverized the city center was in World War Two. That’s apparently a common theme here. And yes, I feel bad about the destruction and war is hell, but then again, I’ve seen bomb damage in London. “If you don’t want to lose your Ritz, […]
October 2, 2013

Rhine – Interlude

Sometimes so much happens that you need to put in a side chapter to explain other details of the tour. A good writer shouldn’t have to do that, and can carry it in a sentence or two. So here’s my interlude. Thursday night was interesting. After a long dinner created by a local chef (I had some sort of beef patty things that I ended up literally licking the plate over), we retired to the lounge. There, a local trio of musicians (two guitarists and a violinist) played tunes classical and otherwise for us. I’ll say they were good, since […]
October 1, 2013

Rhine – Day Seven – Shooting the Gorge

Pulled back the blinds and looked out the next morning. First pleasant surprise: the tour boat locked to our side (with neighbors as close as a Brooklyn tenement) was gone. Second pleasant surprise: the clouds were gone too. We went up on deck as the crew cast off, the ship pivoting neatly in the channel and easing into the current. It was cold and windy (i.e. even more cold) with a wet spitty rain lashing at us. But we were all excited – the weather was better than yesterday (i.e. we could see the Rudesheim Mountains) and we were looking […]
September 30, 2013

Rhine – Day Six – Wet Ink and Player Pianos

Woke up in Mainz this morning with more water above the boat than below it – gray skies and driving rain. Still. JB and I went out and joined the walking tour of the old city. Saw all sorts of old, wet buildings and got the idea that this city has been pummeled by everyone from the Visigoths to the American Air Force. It’s an odd collection of the medieval, the renaissance, all the way up to post-modern. I’d like to see the city and its hills sometime when it’s not sleeting down rain. Then we visited the Gutenberg museum […]
September 29, 2013

Rhine – Day Five – Cathedrals and Triplanes

Talked my Canadian friends into taking the shore run into Speyer today. Did a cathedral tour that was pretty good (the historian guide was a bit flat, and sucked every element of soaring structure and arcing history from this tour). Then we went over to the technology museum, a place filled to the rafters with trains, planes and automobiles. I got to see two Fokker DR1 (triplanes), one of which was a spot-on replica of the Red Baron’s plane. I also got to see a Pfalz DIII, one of the prettiest (yet lousiest) front line German fighters (appropriate, since this […]
September 28, 2013

Rhine – Day Four – Wet entertainment and bed fun

Strasbourg was our first full-day port (or first full day aboard, or whatever). Interesting place. After a night of bumping and thumping (but not too badly) through locks, dawn found us docked along an industrial area south of town. However, what a nice place (better, I’d suspect, than civic-prided blight of New Jersey). A line of railway goods wagons stood in a neatly mown and tree-lined railyard, with swans swanning (sorry, but that’s exactly what they were doing) about between ship and shore. On a nearby road and sweeping bridge, bicyclists whizzed past with German efficiency and French pride. Unlike […]
September 27, 2013

Rhine – Day Three – Top of the world, Ma!

What a difference today. If yesterday set us onto the course of vacation happiness, today gave us a hefty shove in the right direction. I will admit being a bit on edge overnight – troubles sleeping. Would we be able to get the excursion we wanted – Mount Pilatus – or would be we be bumming around Zurich for another half day, waiting for the ship’s coach to leave? We ended up at the signup desk first thing at 8am and were first on the list (actually, for a bit, it looked like we wouldn’t have enough but everyone came […]
September 26, 2013

Rhine – Day Two – Zurich finally!

Finally, this is the day we actually made it to Switzerland. While most of what I said for the 13th involved the early morning disaster, the second part (waking up at the hotel, having breakfast, then getting a cab ride back in to sit around and casually await our 6:55pm departure) went by pretty smooth. We took off and flew for most of the night, meaning that by Saturday, we’d made Zurich. Even though UNITED AIRLINES told us to our faces that the luggage would be on our flight (“Yes sir, sitting right there. I can see it on my […]
September 25, 2013

Rhine – Day One – Friday the 13th

Did we ever kick off this unlucky day in style. It started on the 12th, roughly an hour after my last posting. We’re sitting sweet and pretty on the plane in Orlando, the plane pushes back, and that’s it. We sit. It’s an ATC hold on planes into New Jersey International because of weather. Finally (after an hour and more of excruciating delay) we’re off the ground and making back time. Good; we’ll be in to Jersey by 8:30pm, plenty of time for our 9:55 departure to Zurich. Wheels hit wet pavement at 8:30pm on the dot, we turn off […]
September 25, 2013

Rhine – Day Zero – Swiss Trip

It’s hard remembering a more planned out trip, or one that I worried as much about. It’s our 25th wedding anniversary – we had to do something special and magnificent and meaningful and fun. What better way than a River Cruise, a slow week down the lazy Rhine amid suspender-wearing goat herders and honest and forelock-tugging bargemen. Sure, why not? Winter Park Go Travel’s Lucienne set us up well. We went to her when suddenly all the cruises booked up (ten months in advance) and she managed to get us the sort of balcony room we wanted, Basel to Amsterdam, […]